Anis Ansari

The coronavirus runs rampant in a large part of the population today. With no end in sight, the number of cases worldwide continues to skyrocket. This virus seems to affect almost every organ in the body but has a special affinity for lungs. Most people recover quickly but others with preexisting conditions can have long-term health consequences.

This virus invasion sets off a cascade of destruction causing blood vessel leakage, lungs filled with fluid and blood to thicken and clot. A dramatic increase of very small clots in your cardiovascular system can cause a heart attack, stroke or limb tissue damage leading to amputations. Circulatory problems could also help explain why preexisting hypertension, diabetes and heart disease can raise the risk factors of contracting COVID-19.

This virus can also cause inflammation of the heart muscles (myocarditis), which can lead to irregular heart rhythms, progressive heart failure and sudden cardiac death.

COVID-19-related pneumonia is the most reported complication found so far. In severe cases, lung tissue fills with fluid and pus, reducing the air sacs’ ability to transfer oxygen into the blood. These patients can require high-flow oxygen in order to breathe. Some patients tend to deteriorate very rapidly into acute respiratory distress requiring mechanical ventilation.

Acute kidney injury also has become a common diagnosis in hospital-admitted patients. Within nine days of admission, 20% to 40% of critically ill patients in intensive care units have acute kidney injury. Most patients have nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, loss of smell or taste, fever and shortness of breath. These symptoms lead to low blood pressure and lack of circulation to vital organs such as kidneys.

The advancing virus can also cause inflammation of the pancreas leading to abdominal pain and high blood sugar. It can also cause temporary damage to the liver. Existing liver damage like cirrhosis or Hepatitis B can contribute to a higher risk of serious damage.

Potential long-lasting complications of COVID-19 make it even more important to reduce the spread of the disease by following CDC guidelines, such as wearing a mask, following social distancing, avoiding crowds and good hand hygiene practices.

We are all hopeful that a vaccine will be available soon.

Dr. Anis Ansari, a doctor at Clinton’s MercyOne Medical Center, is Board-certified in internal medicine and nephrology.

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